Into the Blue
The Spin was pleasantly stunned to see a monstrous turnout for How I Became the Bomb and KinderCastle's tribute to Out of the Blue when we rolled up on Mercy Lounge Friday evening. The unmistakable chorus of "Turn to Stone" rang through Cannery Row as we joined dozens of others awaiting entry on the steps beneath an enormous ELO banner. Once we finally filed in, we were a little taken aback to see not only the usual Mercy patrons and a few gussied-up bros and femmebros, but also scores of septuagenarians seated on stools, their heads a sea of bobbing blue hair, their orthopedic shoes tapping as they mouthed every word.
We'd had our doubts that locals HIBtB and KinderCastle could pull off the undeniably daunting task of re-creating Jeff Lynne's magnum opus—especially considering reports we'd heard that the megagroup was seeking a rehearsal space awfully late in the game—but our cynical traps were smacked shut the moment we heard their seven-piece string section launch into the intro for "Sweet Talkin' Woman." Besides, it turns out that the 15-member ensemble had been practicing somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours a day for two weeks straight.
Lead vocal duties were split between KinderCastle's Cody Uhler and Bomb frontman Jon Burr, whose sweat-drenched suit and expression of sheer ecstasy betrayed his distinct passion for this record. "Jungle" was an all-out, hooting, stomping party with the appropriate amount of sundry percussion and madness. With all eight onstage players dapperly clad in vintage suits—the string section was set up in the stage-left wings—How I Bombed the KinderCastle Out of the Blue tore through the album's four sides with confidence and authority, stopping only once for a brief intermission.
For a handful of songs in which a slightly robotic voice modification is absolutely key ("Mr. Blue Sky," for instance), Burr utilized Emiglio—the iconic remote-controlled robot many a reader will no doubt recall from their childhoods. This of course elicited riotous shouts of approval, cementing Emiglio as one of the evening's standout stars, second only to the hair of hired-gun guitarist and Lake Fever honcho John Baldwin, who was pompadourless for possibly the first time in his entire public life.
Fact of the matter is, we even forwent our typically frequent smoke breaks—and general lapses of attention—because we were genuinely rapt. The closing strains of "Wild West Hero" concluded before 11:30, and with no encore the whole scene quickly transformed into a relatively impromptu Michael Jackson memorial dance party. And, seeing as how we intended to spend—more or less—the remainder of our weekend and our funds at Mercy, we opted to slip out and save our serious drinking for Saturday night.
Well slap us on the ass and call us The Spin
Speaking of Saturday night, we arrived for night two of Blue Raider Alumni Weekend at the Mercy Lounge still shocked at the lack of pompadour from the night before. It's amazing how the January death of "World's Most Badass Barber," Leonard Maynor, has sent shockwaves through the music community. Our pea-sized brains were still so overwhelmed that we were standing in line next to Richie Ghostfinger for a good five minutes before we recognized him—sans moustache! Minds. Officially. Blown. Seriously, folks, between the death of Michael Jackson, Baldwin's mini fro and Richie's freshly shorn upper lip, our entire world has been turned upside down.
Luckily for us, there was plenty of booze and rock 'n' roll upstairs just waiting to make everything OK. We arrived on the top floor of the Cannery building to find a packed house—any hope we may have had to not sweat our ill-defined genitalia off was quickly dashed. The Black Lips brought a crowd of rabble rousers out for the festivities, with keffiyeh-adorned hipsters crowd-surfing without irony at one point in the set. More importantly, though, the Lips made a perfect soundtrack for the veritable class reunion on the back porch. We saw Velcro Stars Keith Prat and Shane Spresser, Joey, Kelly, Bingham and Eric from Glossary, and a bunch Southern Girls Rock 'n' Roll Campers from way back—kinda like a Sir Pizza staff meeting except nobody smelled like sausage. And it was great to see everyone supporting their friends, even if we heard some grumblings of crab-ass bullshit throughout the night. (Of course it wouldn't be Nashville if somebody wasn't complaining about some other band's success.)
Crustacean-influenced behavior aside, most of the crowd were ready rock the fuck out—including one very genteel-looking, very hammered yuppie girl that kept slapping our collective ass every time Those Darlins started a verse. Eventually, she bought us a drink, though usually we prefer booze first and the ass-slapping from a total stranger second—call us old-fashioned, but that's how we roll. It wouldn't be exaggerating to say that Those Darlins spanked the crowd the way that lady spanked us. From their badass cover of the Sonics' "The Witch," to the chicken-shaped piñata during "The Whole Damn Thing," the Darlins were cranked up to 11 and the crowd was with them every inch of the way. The hipsters were on a rampage, as evidenced by the 29-and-a-half cases of PBR bartender Drew Mischke reports passing over the bar. Yep, those kids went and drank the whole damn thing.
We'll be at Mercy Lounge Monday night, giving away money and shit. Sort of. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I think all we punkers had to go to bed early.